Rethinking College Prep Costs in Tough Times

In an effort to optimally prepare their sons and daughter for college success, parents often pay thousands of dollars to give them a leg up before they ever step foot on campus. In our current challenging economic climate, families may need to revise their strategy and enlist the help of free resources right around them: the school guidance counselor, college admissions counselors, and other frugal parents who’ve already successfully helped their kids work through the maze.

1) What balance exits with school counselor’s time between high-potential students and students who struggle? What alternatives can we develop to involve and challenge all level of students about their future so that they can all progress effectively? The advisory class during the semester and summer boot camp or reading programs are some possibilities to achieve this.

2) How can parents be more creative about helping their student’s access free or lower-cost resources? What is the trade-off to well-meaning parents who do too much work for their children? What does that teach their students about self-sufficiency? What does that teach their students about how to work through difficulty and figure things out on your own—a key component to adult and workplace success?

By ALINA TUGEND, Posted February 28, 2009 on

WATCHING our sons’ college funds dwindle to almost nothing, I am grateful that my older son is on his way to high school, not a university, this fall. Otherwise, we would not only be facing a staggering tuition bill, but we would also have to pay for what has become the obligatory precollege marathon.

Perhaps nothing, except the anxiety before the birth of a first baby, can match the concern parents feel about prepping for college. There is the same desire to control the process and fear that making a mistake can ruin a child’s future.

So I can understand the inclination to buy every product and service possible to cover all bases.

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